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Monday, August 30, 2010

Cummington Fair, 2010

 When I was a lass, the fall fair was one of my favourite events of the year -- the fair was only 4 blocks from our house (walking distance!), went a whole week long (I could hear the demolition derby while I was falling asleep at night), and my father was often the fair veterinarian (which meant that sometimes I could go with him for free and visit the animals).  I loved the animal barns, the rides, and the fair food -- especially corndogs, fried dough (which we called elephant ears, which elephant ears are different from New England elephant ears), and cotton candy.  There were years when I my mom didn't go to the fair and I was charged with bringing home an "elephant ear" for her.

This past Saturday, we went to the Cummington Fair for the first time.  I ate a large corndog and a fried dough with cinnamon and sugar, pet some goats and cows, watched a lot of people having a good time on those crazy rides, and saw lovely canned goods and homemade crafts.  It was a great day -- definitely one of the best fair experiences I've had since living in Massachusetts.  I'm so glad we got to go, and I hope you get to go next year -- it's worth the price of admission.



Monday, August 23, 2010

Fall Festivals & Fairs & Other Events

'Tis the season the Pioneer Valley really begins to flourish.  Last year I created a calendar with local event listings, but this year, I think I'll just stick to a post and update it whenever I find something new.
*Updated 8/27*
(Admission fees vary by event, and some events allow children in for free.)

Aug 26-29:
Cummington Fair @Cummington Fairgrounds, 97 Fairgrounds Rd.  Entrance fee.

Aug 27-29:
Vermont Blues Festival @Mount Snow.  Tickets required.

August 28:
Red Fire Farm's Tomato Festival @Red Fire Farm, 7 Carver Street, Granby.   Admission Fee.

Sept 3-6:
3 County Fair @3 County Fairgrounds, Northampton.  Admission fee.
Blandford Fair @10 North Street, Blandford.  Admission fee.

Sept 7-12:
Brimfield Antique Show

Sept 9-12:
Franklin County Fair @Franklin County Fairgrounds, Greenfield.  Admission fee.

Sept 11:
Annual Honeybee Festival @Warm Colors Apiary, 2 South Mill River Rd, South Deerfield.  Free admission.

Sept 12:
COVAC Benefit Bike Race

Sept 17-Oct 3
The Big E @Eastern States Expo, West Springfield.  Admission fee.

Sept 18-19:
Old Deerfield Fall Craft Fair @Village of Old Deerfield, outdoors.  Admission Fee.

Sept 23-26:
Belchertown Fair @Belchertown Town Common.  Free admission.

Sept 25-26:
Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair @HSV, 34 Lebanon Mountain Rd., Hancock.  Admission fee.

Oct 2-3:
Berkshire Harvest Festival @Berkshire Botanical Garden.  Admission included w/parking fee.
Garlic & Arts Festival @Forsters Farm, 60 Chestnut Hill, Orange. Admission Fee.

Oct 9-11:
Paradise City Arts Festival @3 County Fairgrounds, Northampton.  Admission fee.
Ashfield Fall Festival @Ashfield's Main Street.  Free admission.

Nov 6-21:
Fall Chrysanthemum Show @Botanic Garden at Smith College, Northampton.  Suggested donation.

Nov 12-13:
Twist Fair @ Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton. Admission fee.

The Birds are Back

Any of you who followed my Livin' in the Belch blog know that one of the things I joyed in was the variety of birds at the feeder we had on our back deck.  It has taken four months of preparations at our new house, but yesterday (Saturday) I was finally able to put up our old feeder (by the kitchen window) and hang a new one (on the tall trunk of a recently debranched yew tree).  And today, we have birds.  Many many birds.  First and foremost, we have a half-dozen of the brightest yellow goldfinches; we also have black-capped chickadees, titmice, sparrows, a woodpecker, mourning doves, and a beautiful lady cardinal.
And one of the resident chipmunks, who keeps making dashes to the area under the birdfeeder and filling his cheeks.
More bird posts to come, for sure.  Have a great week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vintage, Retro, Thrifty: Great Old Clothes

I used to love my vintage clothing stores in Salt Lake City and in Boston.  It was Grunts and Postures in SLC that finally reduced my dependence on my mother's closet and encouraged me to expand my vintage clothing collecting to stores beyond the Salvation Army and Deseret Industries.  Funky, cool, vintage, retro, new -- it had it all, and even though I didn't have much money, I loved what I found and could afford.
Later I moved to Massachusetts, and I found and was directed by other vintage clothing wearers to a number of second-hand stores and vintage clothing stores (included the ever-famous Garment District) to fuel my love of the classic and off-beat looks.  When I relocated to Western MA, however, I had a harder time tracking down the right shops.  Until last Friday.

Roz's Place was perhaps the easiest to find.  Right on Bridge Street in Northampton (where all of these stores are located), it's someplace I walk by monthly, at least.  It has a funky collection for men and women with some new and some old.  The collection rotates seasonally, and right now there is a whole rack of plaid flannel and wool shirts and another whole rack of leather coats.  Of course, there is also a large selection of skirts and dresses and men's and women's shirts and pants and shoes.

But just around the corner on Market Street, nearly hidden behind some other stores, is Uncle Margaret's, a good place for dressy and casual (I found a lovely 50s dress for a wedding I'm attending).  Jewelry, slips, skirts, dresses, men's & women's shirts and pants, clutches and purses, hats, shoes, and even some books. 
No pictures inside the store (that's almost what the sign says).

A couple of storefronts further down Market Street is Retro Genie, recommended to me by the owner of Uncle Margaret's.  Larger than UM's, it carries clothes and accessories, as well as home decor, small furniture, and interesting items.  Unfortunately, most of the clothing of interest hangs from the ceiling, requiring the help of a sales assistant for looking, sizing, browsing, and definitely trying.  However, there were some fabulous pieces hanging up there, if you're willing to ask about them.
Pretty sure this place is dog-friendly, since one of the employees had her adorable young dog (wheaten terrier, I believe) and a customer also brought in a dog.

Sid Vintage I did not have the opportunity to visit.  The store has just relocated from Crafts Avenue onto Main Street and anticipates its grand reopening this month.  Looks like fun, though, and I'm looking forward to getting there.

Just remember -- most vintage & used clothing stores do not accept returns -- so be sure to study your clothing carefully before deciding to purchase.  Look for stains, holes, tears, broken buttons & zippers; smell the underarms for lingering odors; check seams and hems.  Some shops may be willing to bargain down a price if you find a problem they weren't aware of when pricing the item.

If you have another favourite vintage clothing store in the area that I didn't mention here, please leave a comment!  (I'd love to have another store to check out!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Local Yarn Store

We received a flyer in the mail this week, and since it relates to something that people have asked me about, I thought I'd post the information here.

Norma's Notions
14A Lawrence Plain Road
Rt 47, Hadley, MA

According to the website and the flyer, Norma's Notions has yarn, knitting accessories, books, cross stitch kits and supplies, craft paint and brushes, fat quarters, and handmade items ready for purchase.

There's also a social knitting group that meets on Tuesday nights -- and knitting classes on Thursday nights beginning in September.  You can check the website for more information, but information doesn't seem to get updated regularly.

I haven't visited this local family-owned craft & yarn store yet, but after my first visit to Webs in Northampton on Friday, I'm very curious about Norma's.